• Published 21st Mar 2018
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Duelists of the Friendship Cup - DrakeyC

Friendship Games is retold, but with less academics and athletics and more card games.

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Wicked Rebirth

Duelists of the Friendship Cup

Wicked Rebirth

The crowd of collected Canterlot High and Crystal Prep students stared silently as the Life Point meters on the display screen both clicked down to zero, and the portraits of Flash and Shining lit up the words ‘DRAW’ over them.

Rainbow gaped. “Can that happen?”

“Obviously, it just did,” Applejack said.

Flash slumped forward. “Wow… I thought I had you.”

“You almost did.” Shining walked towards him and clapped him on the shoulder. “You’re definitely a great duelist, Flash.”

Flash nodded and patted Shining’s wrist. “You too. Obviously.”

Sunset saw Celestia reach over to take the microphone from Radiant Hope, and then stand up. “I must say, this is an unexpected turn of events. I have seen the occasional tie duel in the past, but I can’t recall a Friendship Cup where we’ve had a tie result for the entire tournament.” She shook her head. “However, we are prepared for this with a tie-breaker system. Each team of duelists shall select one of their own to play a final tie-breaker duel. These selections shall be secret until both teams have decided, and then we shall hold the duel.”

The crowd began talking among themselves. Sunset saw the Crystal Prep team look over at them, and then moved into a huddle on the far side of their bench as Shining came up to them.

“Sorry, girls.” Flash walked up to the group, shaking his head. “Choked on the last play.”

“It’s not your fault,” Sunset said, giving him a smile. “You were on the ropes and made a heck of a comeback.”

“But what do we do now?” Fluttershy asked.

“Easy!” Rainbow pumped her fist. “We pick one of us to kick butt one more time!”

“And who do you suggest we put forth?” Rarity replied, folding her arms together.

“Not it!” Pinkie called. The group looked at her with various states of surprise. She held up her hands. “Eh, I had fun, but if you guys wanna win this, Toons probably aren’t the way to go.”

“Not me,” Fluttershy whispered.

Applejack rubbed the back of her neck. “Ah gave it mah best, but Ah gotta admit, Ah had a lot of trouble keepin’ up with Sugarcoat. Ah dunno how Ah’d fare against the rest.”

“So it’s between us four.” Rainbow looked between Rarity, Flash, and Sunset. She put a hand on her chest and smiled. “And I would have no problem going out there and being awesome one more time.”

Rarity waited until Rainbow finished, watching her, and then shook her head. “Rainbow, darling, I’ve no doubt you would be capable of winning this final duel, and I’d like to think I could as well. But we both know it can’t be either of us.”

Sunset paled as Rarity turned to look at her, the rest of the group doing the same.


“Sunset?” Flash echoed.

Rarity’s gaze flickered over to Flash. “Flash, no offense, you’re indeed one of our best. But there’s some things going on here that would require a fair amount of explanation we don’t have time to divulge at the moment.”

Sunset turned her head his way. “Remember how Twilight’s dog could talk?”

Flash’s eyes widened. “I wasn’t imagining that, huh?”


“This is a bit more intense then a talking dog, isn’t it?”


Flash sighed and gave Sunset a sideways look. “Why do I feel like I’ve been kept out of the loop on something big?”

“Because you have.” Sunset reached up to rub her arm. “It wasn’t by planning, though. I can explain after this. About Twilight, me, everything.”

“But for now, we need Sunset to duel one more time,” Rarity said gently. Sunset looked down and saw Rarity’s hand on her arm. She raised her head to the group.

Applejack nodded. “You’ve got the best chance of any of us.”

“Agreed,” Fluttershy chimed in.

Sunset gently lowered her arm out of Rarity’s hand. “I don’t want to.”

Rarity’s arm fell to her side. “Sunset—”

“You saw what I did to Twilight in our first duel,” Sunset said. She put a hand to her chest, clenching the fabric. “I don’t know how or why, but facing Twilight woke up something inside me I didn’t know was even still there. If I duel her again, what if it comes back out? What if I do something worse with it?”

“That’s a chance none of us like the sounds of,” Applejack said. “But what about the rest of us? Apparently, we got some kind o’ power too, and we know even less about it than you do. We could lose control just as easy as you, even easier Ah reckon, since you’ve got experience with this.”

“And besides!” Pinkie wrapped her arms around Sunset. “We’re all here for you, just like we were with Twilight! The one that’s actually a pony, I mean. If you start to feel those evil vibes coming on, we know to talk you down this time!”

“You don’t even know you could do that,” Sunset grunted in the tight grip and wormed her way out.

“None of us know anything,” Fluttershy reminded her. “But I think Applejack is right. Now that you know what could happen, you can resist it happening, right?”

“Maybe…” Sunset sighed and shook her head. “I know you’re right. I have to do this. But I don’t have to like it.”

“You got this, Sunset!” Pinkie cheered. “We’re all behind you and we know you can do it! Believe in the friends who believe in you!”

“What she said,” Rainbow said, jerking her thumb at Pinkie. “And hey, if magic and talking doesn’t work, we’ll just tackle you to the ground. Usually works when I need to get someone to chill.”

Sunset chuckled lightly. “Thanks, you guys. We’ll keep that option on the table, even if it is a joke.”

Rarity leaned back to look over at the huddled Crystal Prep bench. “Now we just need to wait to see who they choose for their representative.”

Sunset looked at the rival team and swallowed heavily. “I have a feeling we already know.”

“I think we should choose the best duelist among us,” Sour Sweet said with a smile, “so I’ll just assume you’re all voting for me.”

Sugarcoat adjusted her glasses. “Clearly our best hope is to have Shining Armor duel again.”

“No!” Twilight yelped.

Shining frowned and looked down at her. “Twily?”

Twilight’s eyes snapped up to his. “I just mean… uh…” She took a breath. “You know that thing I’ve kinda been obsessed over? It wasn’t nothing.”

Shining groaned. “Twilight…”

“She’s not lying!” Sunny Flare cut in. “Those girls have magic, and they’re using it to cheat!”

“You’ve gotta be joking.”

Indigo shook her head. “I wish she was. Sunny and I have no memories of our duels, and the recordings of them aren’t showing up on our duel disks. Whatever is going on with those girls, we can’t remember how they beat us or look it up.”

Twilight waited for Indigo to finish before speaking, drawing Shining’s attention back to her. “I know it sounds crazy, believe me. I feel crazy for just thinking it’s even plausible. But I can’t find any other explanation for what’s going on.”

“And you just jumped on the idea they have magic?”

“No – they told me themselves.”

Shining let out a breath. “You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?” Twilight nodded.

Sugarcoat stepped forward. “Twilight knows the most about this. And somehow her memories aren’t affected.”

Sunny nodded. “Indeed. If we must pick a duelist to face them, we need one who could somehow counter their abilities.”

Twilight gaped. “What? I-I can’t do anything like that!”

“But you do understand this more than us,” Lemon replied. “And you can remember the stuff they do with their magic, so you know what to expect.”

“The point is that I don’t know. They can change their decks any time!”

“But at least you’ll be able to take notice of when they do,” Sunny said. “And that’s an advantage we can’t have, meagre though it may be.”

“Yes, but—”

“She’s right; if they’ve got some freaky powers, you’re the only one who would know,” Indigo said. “So we really don’t have a choice then, do we?”

Before Twilight could respond, Sugarcoat and Sour Sweet saw something past her and raised their heads. The group parted and turned as Radiant Hope approached them.

“Girls, I’m sorry for interrupting,” Hope looked among them and then down at Twilight. “Principal Sombra would like to speak to you, Twilight.”

Twilight blinked, and then scowled. “Now he wants to talk to me?”

“Yes. He says it’s urgent.” Hope gestured a hand. “We shouldn’t keep him waiting.”

Twilight looked up at Shining Armor. He looked back and put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Twily.”

Twilight nodded at Hope, and she walked past the group and up the steps to the parking lot. Twilight followed her to the parked limousine, where Hope pulled open the back door for her. Twilight climbed into the back seat, the door shutting behind her.


Sitting with his hands clasped in his lap, staring forward, Sombra whispered her name in the darkness of the limo.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” Twilight said, trying to put an edge to her voice.

“I have been letting things play out,” Sombra said softly. “They played out in ways I was not expecting.”

“Play out…” Twilight stared at him, her eyes slowly widening. She raised a shaking hand to point at him. “You know. Wait, no. You’ve known.


“How much?” she demanded.

“At least as much as you do, perhaps more.” Sombra murmured in his throat, his fingers tapping. “But not nearly as much as I would prefer.”

“Then explain it to me.” Twilight shook her head furiously. “This is impossible. Magic is impossible. Impossible. If you know what’s going on, tell me the truth.”

“That is the truth, Twilight,” Sombra said simply. “Sunset Shimmer and her friends possess magic that augments their decks. It is no lie, I assure you.”

“This…” Twilight slapped a hand to her face and grimaced, her fingers clutching her head. She let out a frustrated groan.“I can’t believe you’re saying this. What about me? I seem to be the only one who knows. How do I fit into things?”

“You have been my valuable aide in this investigation. And now the time has come to bring it to a close.” Sombra turned his head, green eyes flickering brightly in the darkness. “Twilight, listen to me very carefully. I was content to watch things unfold and see what developed, but the situation has changed. The duel you are about to face Sunset in is of greater importance to me than this tournament’s outcome.”

“They haven’t—”

“You know they will choose her,” Sombra interrupted, “as I know your teammates have chosen you. Am I wrong on that?” Twilight shook her head. “Good. It is of great importance to me that you prevail in this final duel. There is too much at stake for us to falter.”

“And how do you suggest I do that?” Twilight looked away. “If she can freely change her deck any time, how can I prepare for that kind of opponent? You saw what happened in our first duel.”

“Yes.” Sombra leaned forward. “But this will not be the same as that duel. I suggest evening the playing field.”

Twilight felt a chill go down her back. “How?”

“The obvious way.” Sombra smiled slightly. “You’ve been a great help to me thus far, Twilight. I feel it is only fair that I repay your assistance. And you do wish to defeat Sunset, don’t you?”

Twilight’s mouth felt dry as she opened her mouth. “I…”

“The honor of your school, your team, and yourself, have been damaged. They must be redeemed. And Sunset must be made to understand she cannot do as she pleases without retribution finding her, one way or the other.” Sombra’s eyes bored into Twilight’s as he spoke. “I need to know you are capable of this, Twilight. I need you to defeat Sunset Shimmer for me. Will you do this for me?”

As Sombra’s words seeped in, Twilight slowly nodded. “Yes.”

“Wonderful.” Sombra’s smile widened and he reached up to pat Twilight on the shoulder. “I knew I could count on you.”

Twilight’s head felt faint as Sombra smiled at her, eyes gleaming green.

“Yes… Principal Sombra…”

Sunset looked down at the principals sitting at the table nearby. “Are you sure she’s coming?”

Hope nodded. “Sombra said he wanted to talk to Twilight before the duel.”

Sunset rolled her eyes. “That’s not suspicious or anything.”

“Sunset,” Celestia scolded gently, “Sombra would never stoop to underhanded methods to win. Why would you even think so?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Sunset said under her breath.

Hope gestured toward the stairs. “She’s coming now.”

Sunset raised her head and saw Twilight descending to the field. She took a breath.

“Sunset, if you’ll take your place on the field, we’ll begin,” Celestia said.

“Right.” Sunset walked out to her position on the grass and looked down at her deck. “Here goes nothing.” She raised her arm and leaned forward, and then paused. Across the field, Twilight had her arms down beside her, her head low. “Twilight?”

At Sunset’s voice, Twilight slowly raised her head and opened her eyes.

“Students, we’ve had a Friendship Cup like no other in recent memory!” Hope said over the speakers. “With the final score being three victories for either school and one tie, Canterlot High’s Sunset Shimmer will face Crystal Prep’s Twilight Sparkle in the deciding duel. Are both duelists ready?”

“Yes,” Sunset whispered, not taking her eyes off Twilight.

Twilight tilted her head. “No.”

Sunset blinked. “What?”

“This venue is inappropriate for a duel like this.” Twilight raised her arms, bringing her duel disk in front of her and putting a hand above her deck. “I will provide a more suitable environment.” Dark energy crackled between Twilight’s fingers and her cards, and a purple aura lit up over her.

Sunset’s heart skipped a beat as a pulse went through the air. She inhaled sharply. No…

Eyes glowing dark purple, Twilight thrust her hand out towards Sunset. In a rush, billowing clouds of darkness erupted from her feet and grew to surround the field. The stands of students, the table of principals, and Sunset’s friends, were obscured by the clouds. When they reached behind Sunset they lit up in light and then faded, thunder roiling within them.

Sunset looked around, taking a step back. “A Shadow Game…” She looked back at Twilight. “Twilight, do you even know what you’re doing!?”

“Absolutely,” Twilight replied, lowering her hand. Her eyes slowly pulsed with purple light as she spoke. “This is the power of magic, isn’t it?”

Evil magic!” Sunset cried. “You don’t understand what this kind of magic is!”

“You’re right,” Twilight said coolly. She slowly smiled. “I didn’t understand magic before. But I do now. And soon I’ll understand it a lot more. And so will you. That’s what we both want, isn’t it? To understand our powers and what they can do? What better way than a duel?”

“Not like this.” Sunset shook her head. “This is dangerous.”

“So was our first duel.” Twilight held up her duel disk. “You used magic against me then, and we both came out of it fine. I’ve just put us on an even field this time. Or are you afraid to duel an opponent you can’t bully around with magic?”

“It’s not like that at all!” Sunset snapped. She clenched her fist and glared. “What happened during our duel was an accident. I would never use my powers to hurt you.”

“Don’t worry, you won’t.” Twilight lowered her arm and brought her duel disk back in front of her. “Unlike you, I can control this power, and I intend to. If you can take it or not, that’s on you now. And if you can’t, too bad. It doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that one way or the other, we’re not leaving this field until a duel is held.” She pressed her hand to her disk and the card tray ejected in an array of jagged, purple light.

Sunset reached to her own disk. “If this is what it’ll take to snap you out of it, fine.” Her card tray swung out and lit up.

Twilight slowly chuckled. “This is a whole new evolution of dueling we’re about to witness here. I admit, everything else aside, this is kind of exciting.” Her aura shone brighter, eyes gleaming. “Now, Sunset Shimmer, let’s see what our magic can really do!”

“Be careful what you wish for.” Sunset leaned forward, her coat and hair blowing out behind her. “It’s time to duel, Twilight!”

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